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Roberto Alagna’s parents hailed from Sicily but emigrated to France, where he was born. He has described his family as ‘consisting of generations of acrobats, mandolin players and singers’. While still a teenager he started to busk as a singer; and influenced by the recordings of Mario Lanza, he gradually moved to the operatic repertoire. Although largely self-taught, he did receive some instruction from Rafael Ruiz. Alagna won the Luciano Pavarotti Singing Competition in Philadelphia in 1988 and shortly afterwards appeared with Glyndebourne Touring Opera as Alfredo/La traviata, a rôle he repeated in Montpellier, where he was hailed by the critics as a ‘tenor miracle’. He went on to sing Alfredo in many European opera houses, including Toulouse, Monte Carlo, Venice, Naples, Messina and (with great success) in 1990 at La Scala, Milan, under the baton of Riccardo Muti, who had coached him intensively. During the following years he gradually expanded his repertoire, while ensuring that it remained focused upon the lighter tenor rôles such as Rodolfo/La Bohème (Monte Carlo 1990, Covent Garden 1992, Rome 1993), Roberto Devereux (Monte Carlo, 1992), the Duke/Rigoletto (Nice; Toulouse, 1993) and Edgardo/Lucia di Lammermoor (Avignon 1993, Zürich, 1994). In 1994 he sang Roméo/Roméo et Juliette at Toulouse, Montpellier and Covent Garden: the production was broadcast on radio and television, and considerably enhanced Alagna’s international fame. The following year he made his début in Vienna and at the Orange Festival as the Duke; at the Bastille Opera and the Wiesbaden Festival as Rodolfo; and at Lyons as Nemorino/L’elisir d’amore.

In 1996 Alagna married the Romanian soprano Angela Georghiu, when the couple sang opposite each other at the Metropolitan Opera, New York in La Bohème. In the same year he started a gradual move to heavier rôles, singing Don Carlos at Covent Garden and the Théâtre du Châtelet, Paris. During the following years Alagna continued to expand his repertoire, taking on rôles such as Werther (Toulouse, 1997), Macduff/Macbeth (Milan, 1997), Ruggero/La Rondine (Covent Garden, 1998) and Fritz/L’amico Fritz (Monte Carlo, 1999). He opened the 2006–2007 season at La Scala, Milan, as Radamès in Aida: at the second performance he was booed and walked off the stage and out of the production, to international media attention. Ten months later he appeared in the same part at the Metropolitan, receiving a standing ovation. Alagna’s voice is ideally suited to the lighter operatic repertoire. He looks well on stage, and excels in the rôle of the ardent lover.

© Naxos Rights International Ltd. — David Patmore (A–Z of Singers).

Role: Classical Artist 
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